Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    July 6, 2012 10:00pm-10:30pm EDT

10:00 pm
perceive, react to the story of robert smalls when the news came out? generally slaves were considered beasts of burden without capacity of big thinking, strategic thinking and the like. and how did that -- the reaction differ in the south versus in the north. quick question. >> well, quick answer, the south probably kept their mouth shut because they didn't want robert smalls' example influencing the other slaves. when the slaves escape there is a quick flurry in the newspaper and they don't take about it any more. the republican newspapers gave smalls great play. harper's weekly, democratic anti-war newspapers would not. and that's one of the things that dupont and per value drayton said that robert smalls need to be shown as an example
10:01 pm
to other people in the north to show them that their stereo types are not correct. >> and then last question, i think now generally people know the story, the gist of the story. are there any tidbits, any things that people don't typically know that we should bring out? any nuances of the story, any particulars that we should bring out in our closing moments? >> well, i'll take a stab at this and go back to the question about who in the 20th century. and i'm going to get at it from a backwards movement. robert smalls, obviously a native, another individual, who comes down and is at penn center to help plan his strategy in the 1960s. both are articulate. both are very well known for
10:02 pm
their speeches. if nothing else a lot of robert smalls' speeches are written down and are wonderful things. he has wonderful sense of humor and the 1895 convention and such when he makes comments back at pitch fork ben tillman and others as well. both are extremely brave. robert smalls never went around armed after the civil war. there were threats against him. he once commented when you face down an 8-inch confederate cannon these mean nothing to you. and they were both pacifists. they were pacifists in doing. i'll give to you martin luther king and robert smalls. >> and just to amplify steve's point about the bravery. i mean we forget about that a lot of times. but for smalls and those other african-american men in 1895 at
10:03 pm
the constitutional convention to oppose disfranchisement and -- this really was an act of courage and bravery. but these men had been through so much already just as you said. but the -- but the other point that i want to make is that in the constitutional convention of course was ben tillman, former governor. and now senator from south carolina and ben tillman had participated in the hamburg massacre. and to stand up toe to toe with ben tillman was a supreme act of bravery. that's the kind of mettle these men had. >> and it's an act of bravery because many times he was certainly near the end of his career, a lone voice and he was still there and he was still
10:04 pm
fighting the good fight. >> any -- [ applause ] >> thank you very much. thank you so much for coming out. it's been a long day but it's been a wonderful day. i want to thank our guests and good night. [ applause ] tomorrow on washington journal pedro da costa discusses job numbers. joan goldwasser talks about the dodd-frank act on debit and credit cards. and we talk with stephanie vance saw her to of "the influence game." this weekend, head to the state capital named in honor of thomas jefferson with book tv and american history tv in
10:05 pm
jefferson city, missouri. saturday, literally life. former senator jean carnahan on family life inside the governor's mansion. also, a butcher's bill, a provisions list to the university of missouri's special collections. the stories behind eight miniature back loanian clay tablets. >> at one time, in 1967, this was called the bloodiest 47 acres in america. >> a former warden takes you through the missouri state penitentiary. and walk through the halls of the governor's mansion. once a month local content vehicles explore the history of cities across america. this weekend from jefferson city saturday at noon and sunday at 5:00 eastern on c-span 2 and 3. we had pulled in for the
10:06 pm
refueling that morning at 9:30. we had moored the ship to a pier in the middle of the harbor. >> the former commander on the "uss cole" on the attack that left 17 dead and 37 injured. >> i was doing routine paperwork when at 11:18 in the morning there was a thunder rouse explosion. you could feel all 8400 tons of destroyer thrust up and to the right. we hung for a second in the air as the ship was twisting and flexing. we came back down in the water. the lights went out. everything on my desk lifted up about a foot. i grabbed the under side of my desk in a brace position until the ship stopped moving. more with kirk lippold sunday at 8:00 on c-span's q & a. american history tv
10:07 pm
continues with remarks from richard blackett on fugitivive slaves. he talks about how slaves used the u.s. mail to communicate with other slaves and how they planned and executed escapes to canada, mexico and the caribbean. held at penn state university this is an hour and 15 minutes. >> thank you, tony. that was almost ministerial. i feel as if i'm really in church now. okay. it's an honor to be here. thanks for making this possible. it's wonderful to be in penn state in march and see people in shorts. there is something to be said for global warming. let me suggest a couple of things as we start -- before we start rattling on tonight. one is i'm going to set this
10:08 pm
discussion these series of lectures beginning with the fugitive slave law of 1850. to me the pivotal political event in the decade leading up to the civil war. the fugitive slave law changes the political dynamics of this country in ways that nobody could have anticipated at the time. and at the center of that change in political dynamic are the activities of slaves themselves who run away. so what i am interested in looking at in the series of lectures then is how does the action of the slaves in taking leave of their plantations or their owners wherever they may be in the south change local politics, influence issues -- political issues, when confrontations take place in free states. and in addition what international ramifications they
10:09 pm
had. we tend to see the fugitive slaves and the activities solely within the context of the united states because traditionally folks believe that the united states is the center of the world. in some sense i want to disabuse you of that notion and say that it influenced in significant ways developments. what is driving me here? i'm trying to introduce into this picture and you would notice that i would use that phrase, the underground railroad very infrequently. you can ask me why at some point later on. is it a cussedness if i'm asked to talk about the underground railroad i want to talk about something else. but at the heart of the discussion is the individual slaves themselves and in order to understand what the individual slaves are doing and
10:10 pm
to appreciate what their activities we have to have very grainy pictures painted almost granular pictures painted to understand what it is they're doing. and in order to do so we have to look very deeply through local newspapers in order to find stories. so there are going to be a lot of stories there. so if you are looking for high analytical analysis this is not the place because those slaves were not dealing with those things. i want to give the primacy here the voice of the slave is going to drive my discussion. okay. having said that let's start with a story because that usually is all that historians can do, tell stories. in february 1853, a slave by the name of henry banks escaped from
10:11 pm
a little town in the northern tip of the shenandoah valley. two days after his escape, he wrote his master -- or the person who had hired him -- a man named william buck. he wrote him a letter. addressed from new york. saying hello, master -- or words to that effect. i am here. say hello to the folks at home. i have no intention of returning. now, we know very little about old henry banks. he was described as a ma la toe who had been hired by mr. bunk from his owner, a man named edward masse who lived miles
10:12 pm
from port royal. henry banks had asked mr. buck if he could hire him so he could be closer to his wife and children but it's it seems he may have had other plans. in less than two years after the transfer, masse got word that banks was planning to escape. masse had him jailed but buck intervened and had him released confident that the rumors were baseless. in april 1852, masse got wind of another planned escape and this time sold banks to a local slave trader. again, the man who had hired him, buck, came to banks' defense. family connections, he predicted confidently, would keep banks close to home. to convince banks' owner, mr.
10:13 pm
masse that there was nothing to the rumor, buck agreed to post a security of $800 should banks escape before the expiration of the contract they had first sign signed in 1849 and renewed every year sense. in less than a year, banks was gone. no one knew where to. banks was confident that he fled with his brother and despaired ever finding him. two days after his escape, william buck received his first letter from banks. this one ostensibly from new york city. in it banks talked about going to either albany or new york and informed buck of the escape
10:14 pm
route he had taken. he had gone north to washington county maryland a few miles from the pennsylvania line. but rather than cross into pennsylvania into free territory at that point he turned southeast to baltimore where he spent two days. from there, he headed north to philadelphia where he rested for a night, he said before moving on to new york city. the details, it seems were meant to throw off any likely pursuers. if banks had escaped as he states in the letter of the 13th of february he could not have arrived in new york two days later given the stops he had made on the way. but buck -- the person who rented him was not fooled. he suspected banks had gone directly to philadelphia. he sent advertisements announcing the escape to a local slave traders in washington county.
10:15 pm
in the hope they could cut banks off short of free territory. unfortunately for buck the slave traders were at that time in pennsylvania doing business. there are some suggestion at least among the slave holders in virginia that banks had not acted alone. edward masse suspected he had left in the company of his brother, as i said. while it is not clear that banks had worked with others there had seemed to be a number of other escapes from the area around the same time which suggests the degree of co lugs and planning among the slaves. two weeks after banks left the area, thomas ashby and i introduce another character, bucks' stepbrother was looking for a slave named george who escaped about the same time that
10:16 pm
banks did. george had written a number of letters to family and friends back home from an stress address in philadelphia which ashby described as one of the receptacles of fugitives and their correspondence. ashby tracked him to the address from which the letters had been written but george had already moved on. ashby hired police with 15 years' experience with tracking fugitives but yet it was as he told his brother, like looking for a needle in a hay stack because there are so many places to hide and such a variety of faces. that confused and throw difficulties in the way. ashby even contacted the commissioner responsible for hearing fugitive slave cases showing him several of the letters george had written but the commissioner had few answers
10:17 pm
to the riddle of george's whereabouts. in the end ashby gave up suggesting that his brother hire someone who knew both banks and george and could commit to spending several weeks in his words, in the city. following his brother's advice. masse contacted henry h. kline who had the unfortunate honor of being the deputy marshal who had gone over to christiano and track down the slaves of the maryland slave holder who was subsequently killed in the shootout at christiana. he suggested he hire a policeman from each of the wards where african-americans live to capture banks and george. but kline was away when masse's letter arrived. when he replied in april he
10:18 pm
declined to follow masse's advice. because as he observed many of the policemen were under the influence of ablivists and opposed to hunting down fugitives and he didn't think it was a good idea of writing banks a letter because blacks in the city protected fugitives and moved them at once -- once they got wind of any danger of recapture. instead of proposed to hire two or three men he could trust. he had a few leads he added enthusiastically from a pigeon who informed him that banks was not in the city but would soon return. the news must have raised buck's spirits but it was dashed when buck received a second letter from banks posted from a steamer on the allegheny river in
10:19 pm
pennsylvania near pittsburgh saying he had changed his plans and wasn't going to albany and buffalo but was on his way to california. buck shared this letter with edward masse, banks' owner who responded that banks was leading them on a merry dance. this most recent letter was meant to throw bucks' attention away from him. he knew banks well enough to know he was a not on his way to california, nor would he settle on a local town such as aspen or pennsylvania where a brother lived and where he would be most vulnerable but would choose instead the security and anonymity provided by a large city, such as pittsburgh, philadelphia, or new york. that is where they should look, he said. but ashby's efforts in
10:20 pm
philadelphia had drawn a blank as had kline's. masse also suspected banks had the support of someone who knew the preferred way of leading to california and was feeding him this information. banks were using stamps designed to throw them off the track. he has found means, masse observed, of having an imperfect stamp put on his letter. not only was the stamp imperfect whatever the hell that means but the letter was headed steam ship without giving the name of the ship. masse suggested he contact the post officer at port royal to find out if the stamps were legitimate. others who buck hired him to recapture banks were convince head was headed to his brother's home in western pennsylvania.
10:21 pm
the idea was not that far-fetched. if banks was not heading to aspen, then he may have been heading to rural settlements in washington county out of and so pittsburgh. the trail went cold until november 1853 when buck received a third letter from banks informing him that he had arrived safely in hammenton, canada. there is the story of the underground railroad for you. there are a number of issues here that i will try to disentangle in this story. it took the longest while to pull this together from the scattered letters and other documents. banks' escape provides us with an opportunity to explore further the nature and consequences of what henry bibb
10:22 pm
who escaped from slavery in kentucky called the work of self emancipation. it seems odd that banks would go through such lengths to keep in touch with his former master. he felt -- banks offered in his final letters from canada to repay buck the $800 security he had to forfeit when he left. but neither his attachment to his wife and friends in front royal nor the gratitude he felt to buck diminished banks' determination to be free. his chances of reaching freedom were increased if he could throw off and distract any slave catchers buck may have sent. his first two letters were meant to do just that. edward masse were convinced they were part of a carefully laid
10:23 pm
plan of deception contrived by a smart slave who for ewes had been planning to run. both buck and masse suspected that free blanks in and around front royal helped banks escape by providing him with a pass. banks was literate and did not need the assistance of anyone to write him a pass. the pass which was meant as a mechanism of control -- a mechanism to control the movement of slaves had been transformed into mass ports of freedom. advertisements for run aways made reference to the fact that fumgts could read and write, had written passes for themselves or had acquired passes from others. we do not know the exact details of the poster buck sent to the slave traders in washington
10:24 pm
county, but by the early 1850s, advertisements made frequent reference to the fact that slaves were using their literally skills to effect their escape. when a 25-year-old harness maker escaped with five others from a camp in athens and southeast tennessee in september 1853, george washington reed informed readers of a newspaper that prince could read and write and was making his way to illinois using a pass which reed implied he had written himself. three months later, a fellow tennesseean made public that he made his way with papers from david mcle more. the implication was that sam stole the papers or they were given to him to escape to
10:25 pm
illinois. the ease with which slaves moved about the rural south facilitated the transmilgs of news and pushed slaves systems to enact laws to limit their mobility. the problem was worsened in urban areas where slaves had greater freedom to move around and consort with slaves and working-class whites. the situation in nashville, tennessee was typical. period classify the local authorities would make a concerted effort to clamp down on the movement of the slaves in the city by finding those who broke the law and those whites and free blacks who entertained is the word used slaves or sold them alcohol and suppose that's not one and the same thing. well yam graham was fined $10
10:26 pm
plus cost for allowing a slave to sleep in an outhouse without permission. two dollars and cause plus $20 and cost for as one newspaper put it combining with the same slave to hire his own time. periodic police raids had no perceptible long lasting effect on these connection. the same was true in small towns and settlements throughout the south. in maddenville, the crossroads close to stevens burg in culpepper county, virginia, for example, a small tavern and general store and inn owned by a prosperous free black provided a meeting place for blacks, free blacks and slaves to play cards and drink. it was an important information clearinghouse for slaves as well. many regarded it like the
10:27 pm
courthouse and the plantation dining room, a gold mine of intelligence about what whites were up to. it is these set ins of people on the move where places where they congregated that news of developments elsewhere were orally transmitted, where rumors were legend. when james red path the radical journalist toured the south in the 1850s he was stunned by the speed with which news traveled among the slaves despite the existence of patrols which he observed did little to stop the movement of slaves over large tracts of the country. the more o'dressive the system became the quicker gossip was replaced by a deep yearning for freedom. when jefferson davis' coachman
10:28 pm
escaped from richmond in late 1863, union commanders in fredericksburg consulted him on the layout of the city of the enemy's defenses. jackson moved about the city with freedom before he was hired by davis. when he later toured britain to promote the cause of the union he added the sort of legitimacy to the cause that only someone with firsthand information of the inner workings of the confederacy could. but henry banks' letter to front royal point to another feature of the system of communication employed by slaves. it is clear that either slaves or free blacks got word to george, the other slave that escaped to philadelphia and banks by mail the slave catchers were on their heels.
10:29 pm
it frustrated thomas ashby's carefully laid plans to interrupt the fugitives in philadelphia. it is most unfortunate, he wrote home that those letters fell into the hands they did. could they have been interpreted without been known amongst the negros a correspondence from either or his apprehension would have been without question. no such correspondence is out of the question for the reason i fear it is known in front royal that i came here for him. clearly, ashby was baffled by the ease with which lefters were exchanged between fugitives and their friends and families in front royal. he and masse wondered if the local postmaster was in collusion with slaves or simply

89 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on